Today is January 19, 2021, which among other things makes it the last full day of the Trump presidency. Tomorrow will mark the one-week anniversary of President Trump’s second impeachment, and the two-week anniversary of the Capitol Riot, when President Trump incited his supporters to attack the United States Capitol Building and the members of Congress and the Vice President inside of it.
Since that riot, and since that impeachment, and especially on the eve of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, Trump supporters have cried that Trump critics are being too hard on the 45th President of the United States. Now is not the time for impeachment, they said; it’s a time for unity and healing. Now is not the time to prosecute the rioters at the Capitol Building; it’s a time for unity and healing.
No, it’s not.
There will be a time for unity and healing, and quite frankly, I hope it’s soon. But we’re not quite there yet, and part of the reason we’re not is that we still don’t have answers to a few questions.
For instance: Where’s the wall?
You remember the wall, or should I say, The Wall. Candidate Trump promised his supporters—and by extension, the rest of America—that if elected, he would ensure there was a wall running along the entire length of the border separating the United States from Mexico. Not only that; he was so clever that in addition to getting this wall built, he was going to get Mexico to pay for it.
It’s OK if you don’t remember, because candidate Trump made a host of promises, and it was hard to keep them all straight. He was going to get rid of the deficit. He was going to overturn Obamacare. He was going to create a fund for infrastructure, starting with a promise of $550 billion to repair America’s roads and bridges. He was going to be a busy guy—so busy that he would never have time to play golf.
Of all the things he promised, the wall is the one that stands out in my mind. Part of why it stands out is how ludicrous it was. Honestly, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico was a really stupid idea to begin with, and the idea that Mexico would pay for it was ridiculous.
But when I think about the wall, I remember how candidate Trump’s base just ate that idea up. I mean, they believed, and because candidate Trump wanted this, they wanted it, too. Because candidate Trump showed them it was OK to be xenophobic if not outright racist, his base decided they could be those things, too. And since he was smug, they took smugness to a new level; they took so many opportunities to denigrate the “snowflakes” and the “libtards,” to mock those who were different, all because their leader showed them it was perfectly acceptable to behave that way.
So when Trump supporters ask for unity and healing, I have questions. Are you still xenophobic? Might you be racist? Do you still mock those who are different? Do Black Lives Matter? Do Blue Lives Matter, when your side engaged in violence that harmed—and even killed—members of the Capitol Police?
And where’s the wall? Have you finally realized just how often he lied to you? Do you understand that you were used?
There is no wall. There is no infrastructure fund. Obamacare is still here. He never banned foreign lobbyists from contributing to US elections. He never achieved 6 weeks of guaranteed paid leave. He never had a plan for coronavirus. Operation Warp Speed is slow.
He played a lot of golf.
And then turned his base loose in an attack on the United States Congress.
And now. . . Now, when you think you have a better idea of who he really is—now you want unity and healing. No. Not yet.
And here’s why.
Many of us who were never Trump supporters have always been kind of amazed at you who were. We wondered why you couldn’t see what we saw. Then we wondered if you did see what we saw, and decided to follow him anyway, which makes us wonder how well we know you. We’ve spent a good part of the past four years wondering if you were duped or if you were serious, and we still don’t have a good answer. We still like you—most of you—but we wonder just how far we can trust you, because we saw what happened to you when candidate Trump came on the scene and started spouting his nonsense, and what happened almost cost us American democracy.
And what did you do all that for? Really—was it just to briefly experience a sense of superiority? Were you in it for the hats? Four years ago, you helped elect a con man, who then did what he does best. He conned. He blustered. He lied. He led his supporters—many of whom professed to be good Christians—on a path of slow but steady moral decay. He weakened America even as he shouted about American exceptionalism.
You say you want unity. So do I. You want healing. Me, too. But first, I want you to admit you were suckered; I want you to say, in public, “He never cared about me; he only cared about himself.” And then I want you to apologize, on behalf of the tyrant you elected, because we both know he never will.
Then I will start to give you unity and healing. Because then I will begin to trust you again.